February 19, 2019

Pondering Imponderables from Amongst Bean Vines

Blue-sky thinking on an August day

Janine Pineo Photo | Blue-sky thinking on an August day

• By Janine Pineo •

There I was amid the pole beans, contemplating life and seeking answers.

I’ll give you the answers first.

1. Some would say it depends on the jet stream.

2. Ditto or no, you decide.

3. Not until they’ve laid a bazillion eggs, thank you.

4. If you think this is about the birds and the bees, you need to take biology again.

5. Until I wave the white flag of surrender over the marauding Japanese beetles.

6. Because I need to A) lift heavier weights, B) practice more with the sledgehammer, or C) use a backhoe to dig the hole first.

7. After the first killing frost, but that brings us back to answers 1 and 2.

It’s beautiful, this circle of life. Even more beautiful is that I only have seven questions, and depending on how you count, I may need a mere five answers.

It also proves life would be so much simpler if one could get answers – the more vague the better – before the questions even got a chance to form.

And my questions? Aren’t you just on the edge of your seat? (No, that’s not one of them.) You could gather the offspring and start a round of “Jeopardy.”

Forget the jackpot of a million greenbacks; I’d suggest a pot using green tomatoes or string beans: “I’ll see you a bean and call your tomato.” Or is that poker? (Still not one of the questions, people.)

Now I know the anticipation – DON’T YOU DARE READ AHEAD – has reached critical mass. These, dear reader, are the questions I was pondering amid the pole bean vines. It might be pertinent to note that I was on vacation at the time and remained dedicated to my monthly obligation/privilege to contemplate life and then, while still on vacation, write my monthly diatribe/expose/ode to joy, life and the pursuit of gardening. I also was humming a little tune and occasionally breaking into song while I tried to decide which kind of pickle I wanted to make with the cucumbers I was hoping to find once I finished picking and picking and picking the beans, which were of the Rattlesnake variety, a lovely beany green color with purple splotches of varying …

Oh, all right.

1. Would all those newborn watermelons have enough time to grow and ripen?

2. Would the tomatoes ever turn red en masse?

3. Would the Japanese beetles just die, please?

4. Where did all those potato bug larvae come from anyway?

5. How long would these beans keep producing eight to 10 quarts for canning every two days?

6. Why can’t I pound the beanpoles deep enough to stay upright for the season?

7. If I fell down in here, would anyone ever find me?

As it does every year when I am pondering the imponderables from a row in the vegetable garden, it dawned on me how simple life can be. My shirt was covered in bean leaves, my hair dotted with bean flowers. The Japanese beetles were buzzing about my head; so were the bees, but they were being helpful pollinating the bean flowers, thankfully not the ones in my hair.

I didn’t really need answers to my questions. Given time, the questions answer themselves.

All you have to do is wait to see how the garden grows.

First published in the Bangor Daily News in August 2004.